DPInterface HP Photosmart 735 Review
Brad Soo - October 14th, 2005 (Updated February 17th, 2006)

The HP Photosmart 735 is a mid-sized 3 megapixel digital camera with a 1.5 inch LCD, a large viewfinder and some manual controls plus scene modes.

Open up the Box

Together with the HP Photosmart 735, you'll find the following in the box:

  • 2 AA alkaline batteries
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM
  • User's manual

Storage and Power

Getting a 128 or 256 MB MMC card might not be a bad idea as the internal memory of several megabytes is way too little. The Photosmart 735 does not take advantage of high-speed cards so you'd best stay with MMCs.

I would recommend getting a pack of 4 AA NiMH rechargeable batteries which are higher in capacity, value for money (Compared to one-use AA alkaline batteries) and more environment friendly.

Extras

The accessories available for the SD450 include an all-weather case, external slave flash, AC adapter and various cases and bags.

Camera Tour

Let's start the camera tour beginning from the front. The Photosmart 735 has 3 effective megapixels and a 3x Pentax zoom lens. The "15x zoom" on the middle right is actually 3x optical zoom combined with 5x digital zoom. The lens is equivalent to 38-114 mm and has an aperture value of F2.6 -F5.0.

The optical viewfinder is fairly big and accurate. There's also the self-timer light and microphone but no AF-assist beam. A small grip on the left has a darker shade of gray. The built-in flash has a maximum range of 3.0 m at wide-angle.

The 1.5 inch LCD, though it has just 61,000 pixels, is quite sharp outdoors. Everything brightens automatically in low-light at the cost of a very choppy (And I mean very) refresh rate. Fortunately, the HP Photosmart 735 has one of the best optical viewfinders I've come across. Next to the viewfinder are two LEDs which are self-explanatory (One for movies and the other for focus).

Unlike most cameras nowadays, the HP Photosmart 735 has a 2-way controller instead of a 4-way one. This makes menu access, playback, scrolling (In playback zoom), etc. more complicated and a little more confusing (For example, you'll have to press the up arrow to go to the next photo. The "right" arrow is normally used for this).

On the left of the LCD are 3 buttons: Shooting, playback and print/share. You can take a photo even from playback mode - I'll explain this later. The on/off slider on top of the HP logo turns the HP Photosmart 735 on/off.

The zoom controller lets you zoom the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in 3 seconds. There's 6 raised bumps under it which act as a thumb grip.

On the top, there's another display panel; which is not commonly found on point-and-shoot digital cameras. It's good in one way - The main LCD used for framing doesn't get cluttered up - BUT bad in another - Almost all the important shooting information is located here, requiring constant tilting of the camera if you want to see what you've selected. Here's what the display shows:

  • Flash setting
  • Power status - Including a 3-bar battery indicator
  • Memory status - Internal memory or memory card
  • Image quality
  • Photos/movie time remaining
  • Audio/movie recording status
  • Shooting mode - Self-timer, burst, macro, action, landscape, portrait, "aperture priority" (Only has 2 options: F2.8 & F4.9)

The buttons beside it control the flash setting, image quality and shooting mode. Other than that, there's a shutter button (You can half-press it during playback to immediately return to shooting) and a dedicated movie button.

 

One side of the HP Photosmart 735 has 3 ports (DC-IN, USB and AV) protected by a rubber cover. There's not much on the other side other than a wrist strap mount and SD/MMC card slot. The memory card slot cover is extremely sturdy though I wish it opened the other way (See picture on the right). And let's not forget to open the rubber cover where the I/O ports are:

And finally, here's the bottom of the HP Photosmart 735. It runs on 2 AA-sized batteries which fit into a slot also protected by an extremely sturdy cover. You can also plug in the optional dock here. The tripod mount is inline with the lens and beside it is a speaker.

Recording

Movie mode was also not that great. Despite able to record up to the capacity of the memory card, the HP Photosmart 735 records QVGA movies at 20 FPS. Neither optical or digital zoom can be used while recording.

Performance

The HP Photosmart 735 focuses in 2 seconds and seems to boost ISO speed in low-light. Continuous shooting was rather slow and limited - According to my tests; 6 photos at 1 FPS.

The HP Photosmart 735 certainly doesn't have the most silent moving lens in the world! It noisily extends its lens in 3 seconds.

Image Quality

The HP Photosmart 735 produced sharp photos with minimal chromatic aberration (Color fringing). There's some red-eye which can be removed using any photo editing software and almost no barrel distortion but lots of noise in low-light. You can go as close as 10 cm in macro mode. And I must say that the detail in macro photos produced by the HP Photosmart 735 are amazing (Click on the thumbnail for a full-sized photo):

Playback

In playback, the HP Photosmart 735 can playback stills and movies (With sound) as well as  zoom up to 6x into still photos taken. Personally, I didn't enjoy playing back (and looking around zoomed in photos) using a set of up/down arrows only - and I doubt that you will either.

Conclusion

The HP Photosmart 735, though not rocket-fast, is very reliable and produces very detailed photos. Not for the action photographer or those who want to take photos on the fly; the HP Photosmart 735 targets those who need a great budget camera for casual shooting. The HP Photosmart 735 can shoot right out of the box for most - No need for flipping through tutorials again and again or learning aperture/shutter speed combinations by heart. The movie mode is not the greatest but is suitable for beginners.

What's not:

  • Excellent battery life
  • Big and bright viewfinder
  • Great audio quality
  • Sharp and detailed photos
  • Control over aperture (Though it's limited)
  • Affordable price

What's not:

  • Noisy and slow moving lens
  • 2-way controller
  • Bulky for a 3 megapixel camera
  • Small and low-resolution LCD
  • Slow performance
  • Limited and slow burst mode
  • So-so movie mode

Recommended accessories:

~Set of 4 AA NiMH rechargeable batteries
~256 MB SD/MMC card

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